How to begin! Going to bed the night before a real task, knowing how early the start the next day would be... the day of our first ever cruise. But somehow sleep came which lead to the chaotic but amazing day ahead of us... waking at 4.30am only to drive off to the airport in Melbourne for our ridiculously early flight time of 6am... the excitement outweighed the early morning and the little sleep from excitement the night before.
And this is where the amazing holiday began. My mother [who is in her 40s] and myself [22 at the time] were off our first ever cruise. I was as giddy as a school child at the airport [possibly a little to excited lol] taking photos of everything, and we hadn't even left Melbourne yet!
Then we were off! arriving in Sydney around 7.30-8am all easy so fair, we knew we had to somehow make our way to circular quay for our adventure, we hopped onto the airport train into town, taking us to exactly where we needed to be, only a short walk to the international cruise terminal.
So here we are fresh of the plane then train, walking up the the cruise terminal with out 2 suitcases each dragging them behind use decided what to do... do we try and drop off our bags [around 9am] or do we go for a wander, well we figured what the hell we are already here so we went to the terminal and they happily took our bags from us, although it was a bit chaotic, there was no signing in of the bags, just drag and drop into a little room type thing... but we didn't mind we were happy just to be rid of them.
Next we had to decided what to do with the morning as our boarding wasn't meant to be until after 1pm... so we went around the harbour, walked around the rocks etc but time was just not going fast at all... all we wanted to do was get on the ship! we did however get some stunning photos of The Pearl with ferry boats going past, it was only then it sunk in exactly how big she really was.
Finally what seemed like years [only hours later] we wandered back to the Pearl, tried our luck and joined the boarding line early, no questions were asked we simply walking in with everyone else... im sure we were not the only ones trying to board early. after getting our custom forms etc it was smooth sailing... just stayed in cue, and it was not long before we were getting our room key/cruise card and getting our boarding photos taken! Here I was thinking the excitement was already at a max, well I just got more excited from here!
After almost a year we were finally on The Pearl! Once inside we didn't know where to go, the lifts were taking forever but we finally reached deck 10 [2 upgrades from our original booking] to our outside cabin with window, a nice surprise since we had originally booked the cheapest cabin possible.
Greeted by our cabin steward Rommel with a friendly smile, he showed us how to use our cruise cards to open the door, he then said he would ensure our bags would be delivered to our room very soon. The cabin was clean and not tiny like a sardine can... I wouldn't say it was big but we had the 2 single bed configuration and there was enough room as well as a desk and a sitting chair, there was a decent size walk in robe, the bathroom as tiny but big enough for what we needed, shower toilet, vanity, plenty of space for all our personal items so cannot complain on the size to much.
Once we settled into our cabin we wandered around the ship, put cash on our cruise cards [no credit cards for us] and started to explore, somehow ended up in the buffet which we had no idea would be open, we just stumbled upon it, so we figured why not have some lunch... again [we had lunch on land already but nothing big]... plus we wanted to try what we were going to eat all week.
I found the buffet pretty good, it wasn't michelin star but for buffet food it was some of the best Ive had, not a really huge range, but a nice variety, they also had a roast of some kind on every day at ever lunch and dinner, various salads, cold cuts, fruit etc.
breakfast on the back deck was the best and we always ate our buffet meals out on the back deck
We ate at the buffet for the first couple of days before we tried The waterfront.... All i can say about the waterfront it is amazing, our waiter and drinks girl were fantastic... the food was good and not to large sized meals, we could order as much and as little as we wanted... even 2 desserts... we ate dinner here every night after this, our table next to a window, and ended up sitting with a group of really nice people, we all clicked so well we ended up having the same table and the same people at our table most nights. also by doing this the waiter gets to know you as well, you can talk to them about anything, they are happy to tell you about life on board, where the best places on the islands to go are, and pretty well everything you would like to know. ours suggested the better meals to try and those to avoid, he also brought us the creme brulee every night along with our desserts because he knew we loved it so much.
we often ate early so we could catch the early show, so after we could go to trivia etc, we found if we were hungry after the show the buffet was still open so we would wander up there for some cheese or cakes... often you would find myself and mum having a late night cake and cuppa on the back deck of the buffet.
You definitely didn't have to spend any money on food to eat well on this trip... some of the people we got to know on the trip ate at the salt grill and raved about it, but we were so happy with the food we were getting we had no need to try it this trip.
I hardly found something i didn't like, the public areas were extensive there was always room to grab a seat and just chill out, the open deck was fantastic, but being someone with the worlds fairest skin i couldn't spend extensive times 'tanning' so i seemed to wander in and out all day long, I didn't brave to pool or spas, I just didn't get around to it, plus i was with mum and she didn't really have much interest in that, and i was OK with that, its no fun swimming alone, next time i'm definitely going in the pool bar!
I loved all the bars, they were always so fun, there was always some sort of live music around on the ship if you are into that kind of thing.
word of advice if you can don't waist your time waiting for the lifts, they take way to long, i got so used to the stairs, especially going down from deck 10... plus think of the the exercise, as we say think of your tummy and thighs getting a work out, i came home lighter then when i left... and i ate and ate and ate.
there were a few places i would avoid, first is there is one deck at the back of the ship above oasis [heaven on the boat] under the kids area where there are deck chairs, don't sit in-front of the air vents, they blow out a funky smell... not to noticeable unless they are blowing onto you!
The library is small but nice, you can borrow books when you want to and read them! its nice to grab a book and sit out in the sun for half hour or so. but maybe take something you are going to be able to finish, i started a book a couple of times, but didn't finish it, ran out of time!
the marquee or show lounge is huge, try and get seats at the bottom level, better viewing! but overall rather good! well the seating configuration is a little odd but you get used to it! Over the ship amazing!
Activities & Shows
if your like me you would love the craft activities like quilling and flower making. but they also did countless sessions of trivia 3 times a day and they were fun! bingo, golf putting and shuffle board.
dance classes we did a few and had a blast, and then there were fitness classes etc, i didn't do them! i was on a holiday not a boot camp, but each to there own. there was so much going on i cannot even tell you everything!
I wish i tried martini masters, next time perhaps apparently its a blast, there was cooking demos, ice sculpting and little expo type things about the ship! all really interesting!
I went on the ships galley tour, very interesting as well as the back stage one of the shows! The shows were amazing! i was expecting tacky tack tack! but i enjoyed almost all of them! there was comedians, there was game shows etc! all a blast! but simply impossible to do it all!
theme nights and formal nights, we had 3/4 theme nights and each a blast we got jumped by pirates when coming out of dinner and i loved it! formal nights, what a great excuse to dress up! i never get to pull out the good dresses at home anymore, some people were not into it but i loved them all.
we had Noumea, mystery island, liefu and isle of pines, all had pros and cons.
the choo choo train was fun, but if we didn't have seats up the front we wouldn't have know anything the guy was talking about as we chuffed along! I enjoyed it however! nothing beats a little train ride, only downfall because of the heat i got a little hot on the ride, but was worth it, a good introduction to the pacific and worth the money i think it cost us around $60 each...
the afternoon mum did her own thing, she went shopping and had a blast, i was tired and feeling a little off so i went for a lay down! the good thing about the ship being in port is you can go on and off as much as you like.
Overall i didn't mind noumea but definitely was not the highlight!
well it was really a mystery to use since there was no tours etc to book, we just had no idea what it was going to be, but it turned out to be amazing! we spent a few hours here, went snorkeling, a very good place to get started in snorkeling, no to much coral etc but was really a great place to start off as neither of use had ever done it before.
there was hair braiding etc, i didn't get it done here, but it looked like heaps of fun. there was a market on which was really cute. as well as people selling lobsters etc. i didn't indulge however as i don't eat them, but plenty of people did.
i really enjoyed the island, we went back to the ship for lunch but since it was tenders we really couldn't be bothered going back to the island for a walk in the afternoon, that snorkeling took it out of us, so we just did things around the ship, as there was some activities going on around the place.
forgive me now for the spelling i have no idea about how its spelt, mum went off on a tour, and i decided to do my own thing, arrived on the island and went for a walk was once again a tender operation, i ended up spending the morning with a fellow cruiser who's name slips my mind now, anyway we both ended up talking a locals run tour, we spent $10aud or so each and thought of great we will get in the bus with everyone else, however we were very wrong, we actually ended up in a locals tiny hatchback with two other cruisers with someone who doesn't speak English driving us around although very odd... it was rather fun! it lasted an hour or so, it gave us a good idea about how the locals lived.
I didn't have and in cling to go for a swim here, and since i was alone i wasn't to keen. i did however get my hair braided with my adopted friend for the day by a local woman, they did a interesting job of it, it didn't look bad but i wish id done it the day before on mystery the quality was much better... oh well lesson learnt... then off again to the ship we went for lunch... it wasn't my favorite island at all... i wouldn't go back there by choice but if it happened to be on a trip i was talking i wouldn't complain to much.
isle of pines!
by far the best island of the trip! mum and i took a locals tour this time we ended up in a mini bus with another group of cruisers, it was fun, we saw a lot of different places, it made me fall in love with the place.
we went snorkeling here, and it was amazing! i loved every minute of it! everyone was doing the same thing! and it was so much fun, there wasn't to much local markets etc going on but there didn't need to be! with a place that is so stunning why spoil it by hocking of cheap junk.
the locals even make up some 'boonga' i could be wrong it could be called something else.. its a local dish that's cooked in the ground. we gave it a try, it was a tad... weird.... we didnt eat much of it! I really enjoyed the day at isle of pines!
back to the ship for lunch and again by the time we had lunch etc we were exhursted so we ended uop ion the back deck drinking cocktails instead.
sail aways where held every time we left a port or tender port, they were fun, a drink or two on deck and then heading of to dinner! they really do make it fun for the passengers!
heading home there was no time to be dreary and sad to be leaving because there was so much on and so many things to still do and so any cocktails to try! every minute was a blast!
disembarking was smooth! no issues at customs, no issues with having to disembark to early... unless you want to carry own bags off, we left around 9am maybe 10am. we then had to find something to do in Sydney for a lot of hours, because silly us booked a 7-8pm flight home, and unfortunately nothing compares to the cruise so the day dragged! next time we definitely fly home at lunch time!
the cost of our cruise was so cheap compared to a land based holiday... once you factor in cost of meals, cost of drinks, shows etc you cannot beat a trip at sea!
next time i will experience more of the younger scene as i am going with my best friend but at this point i had a blast and its going to take a lot for me to top this trip!
all i can say is bring on the next one... i'm 23 and addicted to cruising! :)